Category Archives: Christmas and Gifting

Thought For The Day 12/28/14

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Fourth Day Of Christmas

Post #1387

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edward_burne_jones_the_star_of_bethlehem

The Star of Bethlehem by Edward Burne-Jones, ca. 1890.
This intensely saturated depiction of the Magi was the largest watercolor painted in the entire 19th Century.
Note the depiction of the Star of Bethlehem as a light held by an angel.

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 A Prayer For Today  

December 28th, 2014

Our Gracious Heavenly Father,

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Help us do today the things that matter, not to waste the time we have.

The moments we have are precious, Lord. See that we count them dear. Fill us this day with your kindness, that we may be glad and rejoice all the days of our lives.

We ask these things in the name of your son, Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray saying:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.  

http://dailyprayer.us/daily_devotion.php?day=1946

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Author of Today’s Gospel Reading

St Matthew the Apostle

St. Matthew, one of the twelve Apostles, is the author of the first Gospel. This has been the constant tradition of the Church and is confirmed by the Gospel itself. He was the son of Alpheus and was called to be an Apostle  while sitting in the tax collector’s place at Capernaum. Before his conversion he was a publican, i.e., a tax collector by profession. He is to be identified with the “Levi” of Mark and Luke.

His apostolic activity was at first restricted to the communities of Palestine. Nothing definite is known about his later life. There is a tradition that points to Ethiopia as his field of labor; other traditions mention of Parthia and Persia. It is uncertain whether he died a natural death or received the crown of martyrdom.

St. Matthew’s Gospel was written to fill a sorely felt want for his fellow countrymen, both believers and unbelievers. For the former, it served as a token of his regard and as an encouragement in the trial to come, especially the danger of falling back to Judaism; for the latter, it was designed to convince them that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus, our Lord, in Whom all the promises of the messianic  Kingdom embracing all people had been fulfilled in a spiritual rather than in a carnal way: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” His Gospel, then, answered the question put by the disciples of  St. John the Baptist, “Are You He Who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Writing for his countrymen of Palestine, St. Matthew composed his Gospel in his native Aramaic, the “Hebrew tongue” mentioned in the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Soon afterward, about the time of the persecution of Herod Agrippa I in 42 AD, he took his departure for other lands. Another tradition places the composition of his Gospel either between the time of this departure and the Council of Jerusalem, i.e., between 42 AD and 50 AD or even later. Definitely, however, the Gospel, depicting the Holy City with its altar and temple as still existing, and without any reference to the fulfillment of our Lord’s prophecy, shows that it was written before the destruction of the city by the Romans in 70 AD, and this internal evidence confirms the early traditions.

http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=84

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Our First Reading

Romans 5: 1-11 NIV

Peace and Hope

 

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

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Our Gospel Reading

 Matthew 2: 1-12 NIV

The Magi Visit the Messiah

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

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Hymn For Today

We Three Kings Of Orient Are”

 “We Three Kings of Orient Are” sung by Jennifer Avalon.
Both the lyrics and the music were written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. circa 1857

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav’n replies

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

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Thanks Be To God!

Amen

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Mandy 2014

Copyright © 2011-2014 “MandysPath” Ministry

Thought For The Day 12/25/14

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December 25th, 2014

Christmas Day

Post #1384

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Nativity

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 A Prayer For Today  

December 21st, 2014

Our Gracious Heavenly Father,

In this holy season of prayer and song and laughter, we praise you for the great wonders you have sent us: for shining star and angel’s song, for infant’s cry in lowly manger. We praise you for the Word made flesh in a little Child. We behold his glory, and are bathed in its radiance.

Be with us as we sing the ironies of Christmas, the incomprehensible comprehended, the poetry made hard fact, the helpless Babe who cracks the world asunder. We kneel before you shepherds, innkeepers, wisemen. Help us to rise bigger than we are.

Amen.  

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=345

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Author of Today’s New Testament Reading

The Book of Titus

Who leads the church? The Apostle Paul, one of the most important leaders of early Christianity, understood very well that he was not the leader of the churches he founded; Jesus Christ was.

Paul knew that he would not be around forever. In the book of Titus, he instructs one of his young protegés on how to select church leaders. Paul details the qualities of a dynamic leader, warning that pastors, elders and deacons hold a tremendous responsibility in guiding their flocks in the true gospel. Paul believed it is vital that church leaders “walk the talk.”

He also warned against false teachers, probably Jewish Christians who were teaching circumcision and ritual purity. Paul fought these influences in Galatia and elsewhere as he struggled to keep the early church true to the gospel of faith in Christ, not keeping the Law.

The Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Titus, probably from Macedonia. Scholars date this Pastoral Epistle to around 64 A.D. Ironically, Paul laid down these guidelines for selecting and replacing church leaders just a few years before he was martyred by order of the Roman emperor Nero.

Titus, the subject of this letter, was a Greek Christian and young pastor whom Paul entrusted to oversee the churches in Crete. Because these instructions on faith and behavior are particularly relevant in an immoral, worldly society, they still apply to churches and Christians today.

http://christianity.about.com/od/newtestamentbooks/a/Book-Of-Titus.htm

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Our Old Testament Reading

Isaiah 62: 10-12 NIV

Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations.

The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’” They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.

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Our New Testament Reading

Titus 3: 3-8 NIV

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

 

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We Light The Christ Candle….

In the season of Advent we have used the Advent wreath and its candles to help us get ready for this great celebration of the birth of Christ.

When we lit the first purple candle, we asked God to come and be our Good Shepherd.  God our Shepherd has come in Jesus Christ!

When we lit the second purple candle, we asked God to come and forgive our sins.  God has come in Jesus Christ to take our sins and die upon the cross so that we might be forgiven!

When we lit the third, pink candle, we felt joyful even in our longing for Christ to come.  Christ, who has been born in a manger, will come again in glory to wipe away every tear from our eyes!

When we lit the fourth candle, we remembered that Christ would come as a son — the son of Mary, the Son of David, and the Son of God!  This Son has been born!  He is Immanuel — God with us!

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Good Shepherd, Jesus who forgives our sins, Jesus who will come again, Jesus the son of Mary, the Son of David, and the very Son of God!

Today we light the 5th and last candle. It is white and is called the Christ Candle. We light this candle with great joy and celebration, because Christ is born in Bethlehem. God’s Son has come into the world to be our Savior! And He will come again in glory.

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Song For Today

“Oh Come All Ye Faithful”

O Come, All Ye Faithful” (originally written in Latin as Adeste Fideles) is a Christmas carol which has been attributed to various authors.

The English translation of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” by the English Catholic priest Frederick Oakeley, written in 1841, is widespread in most English speaking countries. The present harmonization is from the English Hymnal (1906).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Come,_All_ye_Faithful#cite_note-McKim-2


Performed by  Celtic Woman


Oh, come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant!
Oh, come ye, oh, come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him
Born the King of Angels:
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo! He abhors not the Virgin’s womb:
Very God, Begotten, not created;
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
Glory to God
In the highest;
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing;
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

 

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Thanks Be To God!

Amen

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Mandy 2014

Copyright © 2011-2014 “MandysPath” Ministry

Thought For The Day 12/24/14

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Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

Post 1383

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dore--nativity-scene-todd-l-thomas

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Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

Norman Vincent Peale

http://www.quotegarden.com/christmas.html

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There can be no words that I can write today that weave their magic quite the same way the Bible does, when it comes to describing the birth of the Christ Child. This is especially true when those words are shared using the beautifully melodic lilt of the King James Version of the passages! So sit back, and read the story the way it was intended to be read, and paint a masterpiece in your mind of this miracle and gift that was given to mankind!

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Luke 2:1-20

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

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A beautiful song entitled “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, was originally written in Latin text sometime during the 12th century. The authors of both the music and lyrics is unknown. However, it is thought that the melody was of French origin and was added to the text a hundred years after they were first penned. We do know that the Latin text was translated into English by John Mason Neale in 1851. The version I share with you today was performed by my friend, singer songwriter Michael Fawcett.

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

Rejoice, rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel  

O come, Thou Day-Spring
Come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
 
Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV

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Mandy 2014

Copyright © 2011-2014 “MandysPath” Ministry

Thought For The Day 12/16/14

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I Bring You Good News Of Great Joy

Post  1375

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heavenly Host

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To see an angel, you must see another’s soul. To feel an angel, you must touch another’s heart. To hear an angel you must listen to both. 

Author Unknown 

http://www.great-inspirational-quotes.com/angel-quotes.html

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I was thinking about what to write today when it occurred how completely all-encompassing music has become with this time of the year. Everything from “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” to “Silent Night” can be heard everywhere we go. My bank plays Christmas music. The stores I frequent, from my local Dollar type store to those more upscale retail establishments for which those Platinum type of credit cards are mandatory, play it. Even our favorite fast food business and my doctor’s office have Christmas music playing in the background. And then it occurred to me that there really had to be some subliminal undercurrent also programmed into the thread telling me to spend, spend, spend. You see,I know darned well that most of these places have no more idea of, nor do they really care about, the true reason for the season.

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Those many retail establishments simply see this time of the year as the cash cow on which their bottom line for every year rests! However, you and I both know that the real story and the real bottom line is so much richer, so much more vibrant and so much more beautiful, than any magical display in Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s window. You see, it all begin’s with a call to pay taxes imposed by Rome. And it involves a young couple who heed the edict to appear to be counted. Their names were Mary and Joseph.

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Now Mary was very pregnant. In fact, she was almost 38 weeks pregnant. But Mary did not want to be parted from her husband, Joseph who needed to go to Bethlehem, and she was also hoping to have the opportunity of seeing her cousin Elizabeth during their journey. And so travel they did.

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The journey was an arduous trek, lasting perhaps more than a week. It would have been impossible for Mary, heavy with child, to walk, so it does appear likely that she did ride atop a donkey. Traveling  in a mountainous region would not have been an easy journey for a well prepared, modern-day hiker, but Joseph was a resourceful man who planned as well as he could, given the information he had available. But nowhere, nohow, could he have imagined that sheer numbers of people descending on the city of Bethlehem, nor could he make advance arrangements for accommodations for the two of them. And so, having no other choice, Joseph and Mary took refuge in a stable.

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Smelling of fresh hay, it was a cozy and warm place for them to rest. But then something wonderful happened. “While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7 NIV) 

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Amazingly, the word spread with the efficiency of  teenaged girl’s texting, except that it was heralded not by text, but by a heavenly host appearing in the sky…appearing to a group of shepherds keeping watch over their flocks of sheep and goats. And that host sang as it proclaimed the miracle that the Son of God had been delivered.

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Now these verses from Luke were certainly not the first to reference music. No, the first was in Exodus 15:20-21, and it was referenced again in Numbers, and again in Deuteronomy, and again in II Samuel and again and again and again! Yes, throughout both the Old and the New Testaments, music had played a significant role in the life and times we celebrate when we worship. But it seems to take on a special….almost magical quality when singing the songs associated with this time of then year.

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So the next time you are listening to a song, remember the true reason for the season, and begin humming, or singing one that we so closely associate with faith! Perhaps “Silent Night”, or “The Little Drummer Boy”. Then ask yourself a question. Am I truly happy this Christmastide? If not, why not? And if I am not, what measures can I take to make myself happy? You see, we….each of us….control the degree of the happiness we wear as we travel life’s path. And know that happiness is infectious and spreads almost without our doing anything! And I am certain that this is a type of infectious entity that we can all live healthy lives with, once we have been infected by its special magic!

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“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Psalms 96:11-13

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Mandy 2014

Copyright © 2011-2014 “MandysPath” Ministry

Thought For The Day 12/15/14

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The Other Wise Man

Post 1374

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=picture+of+the+fourth+wise+man&qpvt=picture+of+the+fourth+wise+man&FORM=IGRE#a

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“I do not know where this little story came from–out of the air, perhaps. One thing is certain, it is not written in any other book, nor is it to be found among the ancient lore of the East. And yet I have never felt as if it were my own. It was a gift, and it seemed to me as if I knew the Giver.”

Henry Van Dyke

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Have you ever wondered why it seems like you are always late for the party? I know I have! Couple that with the feeling that so much of what we do is not just too late, but too little, as well, and it is no wonder that we so often doubt ourselves and whether we are really making a difference in the world. Which is why I wanted to share with you a synopsis of story I once read. Written by Henry Van Dyke in 1895, it seems to put into perspective so much of what we think we accomplish and change versus the impact of what our actions really do accomplish! And since it is during this time of the year that we think about one very special gift given to all of mankind…. and of the gifts that were given to this very special child by some who came to honor him and celebrate his birth, it seems very appropriate to share this story now!

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The Fourth Wise Man

The story is an addition and expansion of the account of the Biblical Magi, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It tells about a “fourth” wise man (assuming the tradition that the Magi numbered three to be true), a priest of the Magi named Artaban, one of the Medes from Persia.

Like the other Magi, he sees signs in the heavens proclaiming that a King had been born among the Jews. Like them, he sets out to see the newborn ruler, carrying treasures to give as gifts to the child – a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl of great price. However, he stops along the way to help a dying man, which makes him late to meet with the caravan of the other three wise men.

Since he missed the caravan, and he can’t cross the desert with only a horse, he is forced to sell one of his treasures in order to buy the camels and supplies necessary for the trip. He then commences his journey but arrives in Bethlehem too late to see the child, whose parents have fled to Egypt. However, Artaban continues his search, and in the process, saves the life of another child at the price of another of his treasures.

Artaban arrives in Egypt, only to find that, once again, he is too late to honor the Christ Child.  Traveling to many other countries, searching for Jesus for many years and performing acts of charity along the way, consumes the life of this pilgrim. After thirty-three years, this seeker after light arrives in Jerusalem just in time for the crucifixion of Jesus. But while there, he spends his last treasure, the pearl, to ransom a young woman from being sold into slavery.

He is then struck in the temple by a falling roof tile Artaban is about to die, having failed in his quest to find Jesus, but having done much good through charitable works. Suddenly, a voice tells him “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 24:40 NIV). 

Artaban draws his last breath and dies in a calm radiance of wonder and joy. His treasures were accepted, and the Other Wise Man found his King.

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So never doubt or wonder if what you do is enough because a single act of kindness can and will change the life of that one person, and, ultimately, WILL change the world!

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But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Luke 10:29-37 ESV

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Mandy 2014

Copyright © 2011-2014 “MandysPath” Ministry

Thought For The Day 12/09/14

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The 12 Days Of Christmas

Post 1366

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The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.

Burton Hillis

http://thinkexist.com/quotation/the_best_of_all_gifts_around_any_christmas_tree/182706.html

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I remember always wondering if there was more to the wonderful Christmas song “The 12 Days of Christmas” than meets the eye. After all, it was music from a heavenly choir, that heralded the birth of the Christ Child all those years ago, which is why, perhaps, we associate the joy of songs with this time!

Now,  “The 12 Days of Christmas” could never be thought of as a hymn in the traditional sense of the word. And yet, the lyrics capture the spirit of the love that blankets the world during this season. So I was thrilled when a friend once shared something with me about this song, and I, in turn, choose to share it with you.

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My friend, the Rev. Michael Weissman wrote of something rather extraordinary about a beloved Christmas song that I’m betting most of you have not heard. I certainly was not aware of this interesting claim, but I certainly feel it is important enough to share as a blog with you all. So here’s what he wrote and I have expanded on slightly courtesy of Christine Nyholm.

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Rev. Michael Weissman

Posted 12/10/11

This week, I found out. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

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On the First Day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge  in a pear tree The partridge is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. ‘Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does  her chicks, but you would not have it so…” (Luke 13:34)

On the Second Day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle  doves The two doves represent the Old and New Testaments of the  Bible.

On the Third Day of Christmas my true love gave to me three  French hens – The three French Hens represents the three  theological virtues, faith, hope and love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

On the Fourth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds. The four calling birds are the Four Gospels of  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible. The Holy Gospels proclaim the Good  News of God’s reconciliation to the world in Jesus Christ.

On the Fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five gold  ringsThe five golden rings are the first five books of the Old  Testament, known as the Torah or Pentateuch. The five books are Genesis, Exodus,  Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

On the Sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese  a-layingThe six geese are the six days of creation described in  Genesis 1.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven  swans a swimming. The seven swans are the seven gifts of the Holy  Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading and  compassion. (Romans 12:6-8; Corinthians 12:8-11).

On the Eighth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight  maids a-milking. The eight Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-10.

  1. Blessed are the poor in spirit.
  2. Blessed are those who mourn.
  3. Blessed are the meek.
  4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
  5. Blessed are the merciful.
  6. Blessed are the pure in heart.
  7. Blessed are the peacemakers.
  8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

On the Ninth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ladies  dancing. The nine ladies are the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love,  joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians:5:22)

On the Tenth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten Lords  a-leapingThe ten Lords are the Ten Commandments in Exodus  20:1-17.

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. Do not make an idol.
  3. Do not take the Lord’s name in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. Do not murder.
  7. Do not commit adultery.
  8. Do not steal.
  9. Do not bear false witness.
  10. Do not covet.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven  pipers pipingThe eleven pipers are the eleven faithful Apostles,  including: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew,  Thomas, James bar Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas bar James. (Luke 6:14-16).  This list excludes the twelfth Apostle, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve  drummers drummingThe twelve drummers are the twelve points of  the doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed.

  1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
  2. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our lord.
  3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin  Mary.
  4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He  descended into Hell.
  5. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at  the right had of the Father.
  6. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  7. I believe in the Holy Spirit.
  8. the Holy catholic (Christian) Church.
  9. the communion of saints,
  10. the forgiveness of sins,
  11. the resurrection of the body,
  12. And life everlasting.

The Traditional Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day and last  until the epiphany on January 6.

Now as an aside, “Snopes” says this is not necessarily true as the report seems to date only to the 1990’s. They also say that no supporting evidence exists to prove the accuracy of this claim. However, as I see it, there is no supporting evidence to support the tenets of faith either and yet they exist, and flourish to this day.  And, I for one like this explanation! Doesn’t reading about a hidden meaning behind the words, somehow make them even more profound and most certainly more endearing? And this is something that I can cling to and think about as I sing this wonderful song! Yes, I believe this story! Do you?

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“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

Matthew 2: 10-12 NIV

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And what a difference between our sin and God’s generous gift of forgiveness. For this one man, Adam, brought death to many through his sin. But this other man, Jesus Christ, brought forgiveness to many through God’s bountiful gift. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but we have the free gift of being accepted by God, even though we are guilty of many sins. The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.”

Romans 5:15-17 NLT

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Mandy 2014

Copyright © 2011-2014 “MandysPath” Ministry

Thought For The Day 12/08/14

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The Rest Of The Story…

   Post 1365   

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Depiction of Saint Nicholas. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Depiction of Saint Nicholas. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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True Happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.

Antoine De Saint-Exupery

http://www.searchquotes.com/search/Saint_Nicholas/

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We have long come to associate St. Nicholas (or Santa Claus) with the pipe smoking, white bearded, rosy-cheeked man whose picture adorns nearly every place we look come the last couple of months of every year. But have you ever wanted to hear the rest of the story? Well, here it is!

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The real St. Nick wasn’t a fat, pale, and rosy-cheeked jolly fella. In fact, he was quite the opposite. You see, he was born almost 300 years after Christ, and he was a darker complected Greek holy man who became bishop of a small town called Myra (now present-day Turkey). Sure, he probably had jolly good days, but his reputation was of a more serious nature. He was described as a firebrand and staunch defender of Christian doctrine and spent years in prison for refusing to reject his faith during religious persecution.

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Portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes, Saint Nicholas’s feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6th. His strong faith created a lasting legacy among the saints, and as such, two main stories  planted the seed that would, many centuries later, bring about the fat, bearded man in a red suit bearing gifts to young children. But just exactly what were those two stories that have driven home our modern-day characterization of Santa Claus? Well, the first tale reinforced Saint Nicholas’s reputation as protector of the poor. Legend has it that he saved three impoverished daughters from a life of prostitution by providing for their dowries. He offered three bags of gold for the young women, of which he tossed through an open window. The bags of gold landed into socks that were left near the chimney to dry. The second tale, which is rather morbid, reinforced his reputation as protector of children. Saint Nicholas walked into an Athens inn and discovered through his holy senses that the local inn keeper had robbed, murdered, and then pickled three young men in basement barrels. The Saint fervently prayed and resurrected their bodies back to life.

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Merry Old Santa Claus. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Merry Old Santa Claus. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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Despite various iterations handed down over the centuries, Dutch settlers brought the legend of Saint Nicholas, known to them as Sinter Klaas, to America towards the end of the 18th century. As their tradition goes, Sinter Klaas rode a white horse and left gifts in wooden shoes. This story merged with the British character Father Christmas, who dates back at least as far as the 17th century. Sinter Klaas was eventually Americanized to “Santa Claus.”

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The rituals and fantasy surrounding Santa Claus became fixed in the modern American imagination with the publication of the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Moore in 1823. Better known as “The Night Before Christmas,” the poem established Santa’s physical appearance (plump and jolly), his mode of transportation (a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer), and his method of toy delivery (down the chimney) for generations to come.

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So now that you know the rest of the story, will you alter, in any way, your approach to your celebrations this year? I doubt it! I’m not sure that I will, as a matter of fact…. except to remember to include a greater emphasis in giving to others rather than in focusing on what I will be getting! After all, is it not the blessings of giving which bring to man the sense of joy, peace and love, that seems to make our world just a little bit brighter every December?

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There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.

Proverbs 11: 24 NASB

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Mandy 2014

Copyright © 2011-2014 “MandysPath” Ministry

History of Saint Nicholas adapted from http://www.biography.com/news/st-nicholas-santa-claus-origin-story